The US Supreme Court has rejected former President Donald Trump’s bid to prevent Congress from obtaining his federal income tax returns. The Supreme Court decision will allow for the Democrat-controlled House Ways and means Committee to indeed obtain Trump’s tax returns.
However, the Dems will need to do so urgently, as Republicans will be taking control of the House in January.
Trump vs. the Democrats on Taxes
The Supreme Court decision did not feature a dissent from any of the nine judges (three of which are Trump appointees). The decision comes three months after the federal appeals court in DC ruled similarly, that the Ways and Means Committee had the right to obtain Trump’s tax returns. The appeals court, like the Supreme Court, ruled unanimously that Trump needed to surrender his tax returns.
Trump, of course, appealed the appellate court decision, writing in his filing that “this case raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future President.”
“Federal law mandates that the Treasury Department and IRS deliver income tax returns when Ways and Means, or two other congressional committees that have oversight over tax issues request them,” CNBC reported.
The Ways and Means Committee first requested the Treasury Department for Trump’s tax returns back in April 2019. But Steven Mnuchin, who then ran the Treasury Department (and was a Trump appointee) “refused to comply with the request for his tax returns, saying that the committee lacked a legitimate legislative purpose.”
The hunt for Trump’s tax returns was renewed when Joe Biden took office, in January 2021. The Treasury Department, in mid-2021, said that they would release Trump’s tax returns, citing an opinion by Treasury’s legal team, which understood the request for the returns to be legally valid, and that Treasury had a legal obligation to comply.
The Treasury Department’s decision to comply with the Ways and Means request is what inspired Trump to countersue, to block the returns from being turned over.
Trump argued that the request “both violated the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and that the request did not have a legitimate purpose.”
When the appellate court ruled against Trump, federal court Judge Trevor McFadden ruled that “a long line of Supreme Court cases requires great deference to facially valid congressional inquiries. Even the special solicitude accorded former presidents does not alter the outcome.” McFadden concluded that “the committee need only state a valid legislative purpose. It has done so.”
Donald Trump Isn’t Winning Anymore
The tax return ruling is just one of many breaks that have not gone Trump’s way lately.
New York Attorney General recently filed suit against the Trump Organization, claiming that the company committed egregious fraud; Trump is under investigation for the mishandling of top secret documents; the DOJ is conducting a criminal inquiry into Trump’s involvement in the January 6th riots; Trump endorsees fared atrociously during the midterm elections; and now several prominent Republicans are calling for the party to move beyond Trump, who has been a “loser” in 2020, 2021, and now, 2022.
Now, on the heels of the Supreme Court’s tax return ruling, Trump is lashing out. “Why would anybody be surprised that the Supreme Court has ruled against me, they always do!” the former president wrote on Truth Social. “It is unprecedented to be handing over Tax Returns, & it creates terrible precedent for future Presidents. Has Joe Biden paid taxes on all the money he made illegally from Hunter & beyond.”
Again, three of the Supreme Court Justices are Trump appointees – and they all ruled to uphold the appellate court ruling.
Accordingly, Trump’s victim complex seems misguided here.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.